If there was any sign of progress, it was that Senate Democratic leaders met with President Obama on Wednesday at the White House to weigh whether to drop their demand that the $ 120 billion payroll tax cut be paid for with a new surtax on millionaires. Republicans have rejected the idea, but it was not clear Wednesday whether that concession from Democrats would be enough to produce a deal.
Precisely because it’s probably not enough of a concession for Republicans to make the deal, it needs to be kept. There is no more potent, and truthful, message than that the Republicans are actively harming working America in order to protect the wealthy. And not just the wealthy—the very wealthiest of the wealthy. Because that’s what all of this boils down to.
President Obama is pressing Congress to resolve the payroll tax cut issue, now.
“This Congress cannot or should not leave for vacation until they have made sure that that tax increase doesn’t happen,” Obama said at the White House, before announcing an administrative action that would provide minimum wage and overtime protections for about 2 million in-home care workers.
“Right now Congress needs to make sure than 160 million working Americans don’t see their taxes go up on Jan 1st,” he said. “None of the workers who join us here today can afford a thousand dollar tax increase next year…It wouldn’t be good for the economy.”
Here’s another option: Congress passes another short-term funding bill, as the White House urged last night, and leaves it at that. Let the Congress go home for Christmas and let Democrats beat Republicans over the head and neck on a daily basis over the fact that they had to leave with the payroll extension and unemployment benefits undone because Republicans insisted on protecting the 1 percent. Then come back right after Christmas and deal with those measures before they expire at year’s end.